A life-threatening addiction

A life-threatening addiction

Sometimes, the most dangerous drugs aren’t the ones which are slid over counters or exchanged for petty cash – they’re the ones which are commonly stocked in average first-aid kit and medicine cabinets.

Mild painkillers and headache-relievers may seem like small fish but they don’t always remain so; after all, with the frequency that they’re taken — in some cases, even on a daily basis — it isn’t difficult to develop a mild dependency on these kinds of drugs.

Although not many are aware of it, they do have their own set offside-effects and negative repercussions. Metrolife attempts to understand whether this sort of dependency is common and what alternatives people can turn to. Dr Sujendra Prakash, a psychiatrist, points out that this sort of dependency is actually of a psychological kind. “When people take these pills, it alleviates immediate discomfort, and so they get ho­o­k­ed. This is definitely a psychological addiction. Ph­y­si­ological addictions are easier to overcome but this is not the case with mental ones,” he explains.

The repercussions, he adds, can be fairly potent. “There are definite side-effects. When the body gets acclimatised to the chemicals in these drugs, it becomes immune to them — the same dosage no longer has the same effect and so people who take medication daily tend to incr­e­ase dosage frequently,” he observes.

Aditya, a software engineer, agrees that the trend is fairly common and equally alarming. “I generally take pills very rarely. This isn’t entirely a conscious decision –
I just happen to keep good health. But when I do fall sick, I tend to take a pill before visiting the doctor,” he says. While he can still condone one-off cases, he thinks that turning this into a habit could be dangerous. “Over-the-counter medication is taken very frequently and this is worrying because not many know of its side-effects. For example, even a mild drug like Paracetamol can harm the liver if taken in large doses.
It’s especially alarming in the case of senior citizens, who tend to take these drugs very often. It’s not advisable,” he notes.

Aishwarya, a professional, also endorses this view and makes an effort to steer clear of over-medication.

“I make sure I don’t take pills unless its an emergency. For instance, if I have a presentation and know a headache will affect my performance I might take a tablet. But in general, I tend to avoid them unless it’s absolutely necessary,” she maintains.
Instead, she sticks to a healthier alternative – natural remedies. “I think the best cure for any headache is to sleep. Sometimes, if I have a really bad stomach ache, I might have some ajwain,” she explains. In fact, a recent trip to donate blood revealed to her that her blood count was alarmingly low.

Although a host of iron supplements are available in the market, she admits to avoiding them. “I make it a point to increase my iron intake. I generally eat a lot of dates. Sticking to the natural way is always much better,” she states.

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